Let me see if I’ve got this straight.
The Polk County Commission contracted with FCC Environmental Services, a branch of a multinational garbage company, to collect residential garbage, recycling and yard waste every week in unincorporated areas between the Hillsborough County line and the edge of Winter Haven.
But the company’s staff regularly misses pickups, a situation that seems to have gotten worse since the company signed a contract to also collect garbage in a big chunk of Hillsborough County.
County commissioners were upset, since some of them live in areas the company serves and were not getting their garbage picked up, either. They’ve been getting an earful from constituents, too.
FCC officials showed up at a commission meeting on Feb. 1, apologized and promised to do better. However, they did worse and commissioners declared an emergency a couple weeks later because allowing garbage to sit at curbside for days after it was supposed to be picked up is a public health and safety threat.
They authorized County Manager Bill Beasley to work out a solution.
This is where it gets weird.
The solution announced today was to allow FCC to limp along with its poor service by eliminating curbside recycling for a month and then reducing recycling pickups to every other week until further notice.
In other words, customers are being penalized by receiving less service for the same cost and who knows how many tons of trash that should have been recycled will be s going to the landfill instead of the recycling center.
In earlier days this may not have mattered because there were numerous recycling drop-off centers located around the county where you could take your cans, newspapers and cardboard boxes if you didn’t have curbside service.
Since Polk County Solid Waste eliminated the drop-off center near the landfill a few years ago because Director Ana Wood said it was inconvenient for the staff to service it, all that’s left for the general public is a small drop-off facility in Auburndale maintained by Republic Services.
Another partial alternative is to save and bag your aluminum cans and take them to one of the local scrap metal businesses. Prices have risen in the past year and it may be worth the trip.
This radical change, by the way, doesn’t affect customers whose garbage and recycling is picked up by Advanced Waste Disposal, the other contractor, who has been able to operate with few problems in eastern Polk County.
It will be interesting to see how customers react.